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FATF report on Indian bank CEO, politician gives ammo to BJP: ‘matter of great shame’

Union minister Anurag Thakur on Monday attacked Congress over a report by Financial Action Task Force (FATF) that ostensibly cited a money laundering probe involving Yes Bank founder Rana Kapoor as a case study in using ‘cultural objects as a vehicle to transfer or hide illicit proceeds’. The FATF report mentions the case of Yes Bank founder, charting the details of wrong means taken to serve one’s own interests by buying art of average value.

Union minister Anurag Thakur questioned the BBC on the Gary Lineker issue.

Without naming anyone, the case study noted that a CEO of an Indian bank purchased mediocre art from politicians and in turn paid huge kickbacks through banking channels, projecting them as genuine pieces of art. The top bank executive “purchased a piece of art from the close relative of a member of the ruling political party at that time for USD 264 000.”

“However, the investigation revealed that this was an over-valuation, and that the price paid was not for art, but rather was a bribe to influence the awarding of the prestigious Indian award ‘Padma Bhushan’ for himself,” it stated.

The FATF report titled ‘Money Laundering & Terrorist Financing in the Art and Antiquities Market’ was published on February 27, 2023.

Reacting sharply to the report, Union minister Anurag Thakur said, “Till now the media and people used to discuss the Financial Action Task Force only for the fact that whether Pakistan will remain in the grey list or will go even further. Now the same FATF is being discussed again in context of an influential family of the country.”

He added, “One after another, new models of Congress’s corruption are coming to the fore. Sometimes it is National Herald, sometimes Vadra land scam, sometimes some another. Now FATF has published a case study that how a former Union Minister in the UPA government pressurised an individual in buying Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s average painting in Rs. 2 crore.”

“It is a matter of great shame that the story of corruption of the Gandhi family is made into a case study and being told to the whole world, that too by an organization that works to stop terror financing.” Anurag Thakur said.

Rana Kapoor had claimed in a statement to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) that he was pushed to buy a MF Husain painting from Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, and that he was promised one of the country’s top civilian awards in return.

The statement, recorded by ED on March 9 and 10, 2020, added that the sale was facilitated by senior Congress leader Murli Deora and a few weeks later, senior Congress leader, the late Ahmed Patel, had appreciated his “good deed” and informed him that he (Kapoor) would be “duly considered” for a major civilian honour, and “possibly some non-political banking and finance assignments”.

Kapoor’s statement was part of a supplementary charge sheet filed by ED to the special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court in Mumbai in April 2022. To be sure, both Deora and Patel have passed on and there is no way of verifying Kapoor’s statement. Kapoor did not win any major civilian honour.

The BJP leader said Priyanka Gandhi should come clean on the identity of “Mr A” referred to in the FATF report.

“Was Padma Bhushan being given in exchange for money and painting? Is this a corruption model of the Congress? How many other national honours have you sold for money?” Thakur asked the opposition party.

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